Swim Centers Would Benefit All

Once again Supervisor Steve Whitener (R-Sugarland Run) has demonstrated his closed mind. With his usual arrogance, he shows his callous disregard for the county's obligation to at least attempt to provide adequate recreational facilities for all of its citizens ["Vote to Sink New Swim Centers," Letters, June 24]. His description of swimmers as a "selfish special interest group" is outrageous!

Many citizens may be surprised to learn that Loudoun County owns and operates only two swimming pools, and they are both outdoor seasonal pools. The Town of Leesburg owns the Ida Lee complex. The privately operated pools Mr. Whitener makes reference to, for the main part, are owned by various homeowners associations. These pools, except by special arrangement, are not open to the general public.

Mr. Whitener, swimmers are a portion of the general public you are supposed to be serving. In fact, they may be a much larger percentage of the population than you suspect. They come in all ages, ranging from the very young to the adults who may wish to swim laps before they go to work in the morning or when they return in the evening. They include senior citizens who can no longer engage in strenuous physical activity but can achieve a good fitness program or therapy through aquatic sports. Mentally and physically challenged individuals, with proper management, can reach levels of enjoyment and self-esteem that is next to impossible for them in contact sports.

Loudoun County is far behind some segments of the country where swimming is part of the school program. The shared use of these proposed facilities by the general public and the school system could make such a program feasible for our schools. Shared use makes good economic sense and is clearly a step in the right direction.

Surely Mr. Whitener understands that fitness equipment in any gymnasium can be beneficial to participants in all sport activities, as well as personal development programs. In fact, there is a good probability that such equipment will have far greater use by men, women and teenagers who are looking for bodybuilding or relief from stress. It will likely be used by athletes who want to develop greater strength for those sports where muscle power is important. While swimmers need a certain amount of strength, typically they will be more concerned about stretching exercises and endurance.

Perhaps one of the best features of this joint effort between the county's Department of Parks and Recreation and the school system is that good facilities would be available on a year-round basis for all of our citizens. It is not a welfare program for swimmers. Both the gym and the pool would be an investment in a recreational facility that citizens, both male and female, could use as individuals or with a group, and look forward to a lifetime of participation. Not many sports can make that claim.

I think when all the facts are presented, it will be clear that Mr. Whitener's cost analysis is faulty. I urge the citizens to wait for a more in-depth report before accepting his distorted tirade as fact.

MARGARET L. STERRET

Purcellville